Voice of Sport

Age just a number as Al Merreikh pick 76-year-old Otto Pfister as coach

The reaction of the proud Omdurman club to the shock early elimination from CAF Confederation Cup by Kampala City Council was to sack the younger Michael Kruger


THERE  are some things that seem out of this world.

Imposing Sudan side Al Merreikh’s preparations for an Africa club championship was playing a friendly with none other than the giant World and European club champions Bayern Munich. Al Merreikh did well in the match in Doha, Qatar to go down just 0-2 from goals by Julian Green and Claudio Pizarro on January 9. But only to come back to be eliminated right in the first round of the CAF [African Football Confederation] Confed Cup by obscure Kampala City Council [KCC].

At home in Khartoum, Al Merreikh were shocked by a 2-0 defeat by KCC and a 2-1 reverse in Kampala was not good enough, so they bombed out.

They are a club with incredible home support and resources. A crowd of 44,000 thousand packs their Omdurman Stadium for every match, domestic or otherwise. In fact there is no room for everyone for the high profile matches and only the lucky ones find space.

Arch rivals Al Hilal

Now in an effort to revive their fortunes, the current Sudan champions, who wrestled last season’s title from bitter cross-town rivals Al Hilal, Al Merreikh are digging deep.

First it is in the form of bringing in a new coach to replace Michael Kruger who was fired after the CAF Confed Cup elimination by the Ugandans.

And here is how it gets even more interesting. The incoming coach is another German, Otto Pfister. He is 76; confirming that anything is possible in football.

Pfister has been appointed as the new Al Merreikh coach on a three-year deal after being seen as a better manager then the sacked Kruger, 59.

League title

Pfister makes a return to the club he coached between 2006 and 2007, leading them to the Sudan premier league title.  The Al Merreikh move makes a bold statement that the age of a coach is just a number, by picking the German.

 Pfister (born November 24, 1937 in Cologne) is one of Germany’s most successful coaching exports, voted Africa manager of the year in 1992.  He has been to four Africa Cup of Nations competitions—with Burkina Faso, DR Congo, Cameroon and Ghana. H reached the final twice, with Cameroon and Ghana.

Pfister has won the Fifa Under-17 World Cup with Ghana and he has also won the U19 Africa Championship with Cote d’Ivoire and also led Togo in the 2006 World Cup.

Pfister also qualified for the 1998 Fifa World Cup with Saudi Arabia and won the League title in two different countries, Egypt and Lebanon.